There's always a slight culture shock when you stay in a country for longer than a week, although it's never so much as a shock as it is just small jolt from having being pulled out of your confined understanding of normalcy (I still recall vividly my experience with buying ham in Boston). The last couple of days, I discovered something similar to how an American might feel when they come to Canada and discover that milk often come in bags.
I'm a bit embarrassed to admit this because I love drinking coffee, but I drink coffee most often with cream (most of the time flavoured) and sugar. The other day at the office, I wanted to have cream for my coffee, only to discover that it doesn't really exist. I walked into a local grocery store and found no such thing. A little confused, I went to McDonald's, thinking they MUST have cream, and not only did I find that they didn't have any, but that a girl next to me said she's never heard of "coffee cream". "Did you mean whipped cream?" She asked me in her charming English accent. Okay, fine, Starbucks should have it right? Nope, not even at their condiments counter. Surprisingly, Costa said they did when I went to ask. They gave me a small cup of it, and it was...really really creamy, but, as delicious as it was, it was not coffee cream.
Looking this up, it turns out that the cream that Costa gave me was quite common in the UK--for desserts. It's called single cream and it's about 20% rather than 12%. The most common cream here is clotted cream, which is approximately 55%-60%. Crazy.
I really shouldn't be surprised though, since I knew that condensed is the normal creamer for coffee in Thailand and Vietnam, so it's only natural that another country would use a different type of milk product as creamer. I don't think I could ever get used to putting milk into my coffee; I never liked cafe au lait and was never huge on lattes. I wonder what I'll be discovering at my next stop in Paris. Two weeks...I think I'll be really lonely.